Essay Example on Norse Settlement in Iceland Caused Walrus Extinction

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  591 Words
Date:  2023-02-12

After Norse settlement in Iceland, walrus disappeared. Research by International alliance of scientists has proven it after the use of carbon-14 dating of remains of walrus in Iceland were used to reveal walrus past existence(Frei, et al. 446). The study was to disclose their inhabitation thousand years ago that shortly after Norse settlement had the walrus disappear. The International Researchers from Iceland and Holland extracted DNA from archaeological excavations of walrus samples and natural finding sites. After that they made comparisons to data from present-day walruses. The researchers later documented that Icelandic walrus had a genetically unique lineage, definite from all other historical and present-day walruses in North Atlantic. The essay will explain the extinction of Icelandic walrus that coincides with Norse settlement around 870AD.

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The leading cause of extinction of walrus was ivory trade and walrus hunting. A fact concerning walrus was that the Norse settlement in Iceland traded with walrus tusks, hides and hunted them for food. It further explains that human arrival and overexploitation led to walrus extinction. Walrus ivory was widely marketed and a luxury good across Medieval Europe and the Viking Age. In more than 1000 years, trade networks and commercial hunting had intensified, resulting in exceptional, irreversible ecological effects on the marine environment (Frei, et al. 442). This relates to the topic we are covering in class because it expounds on environmental impacts that overexploitation by humans has over the years caused on walrus resulting in their extinction.

The extinction of Icelandic walrus happens to have been due to the arrival of Norse settlers. The article explains how scientists used ancient DNA analyses and C14- dating to reveal the past existence of distinct Icelandic walruses that after Norse settlers in Iceland they went extinct. For these settlers, their motivation was based on economic profit brought about by the walrus ivory trade. The research entailed radiocarbon dating of contemporary remains of walrus. It confirmed that some local walrus had made their inhabitation in Iceland seas. However, the walrus had undergone an immediate decline to further eventual extinction shortly around 870AD upon the Norse settlers' arrival. Alternatively, the walrus extinction was also linked to the extensive archival studies the scientists conducted. All Medieval literature pointed at the active local hunting that the early Norse colonists did on the walrus (Frei, et al. 440). This relates to the topic we are covering in class because it explains how humans have overexploited marine resource.


The extinction of Icelandic walrus coincides with Norse settlement. International Scientists from Denmark, Holland and Iceland have demonstrated the past existence of a distinct population of walruses by use of ancient DNA analyses and C14- dating. They further explained their extinction shortly after Norse settlers in Iceland, following the DNA extraction from archaeological excavations of samples by walrus. Consequently, also compared the data and documented that the walrus in Iceland were from a genetically different lineage unique from the historical and present populations of walrus. The principal cause being the settlers' hunted walrus for the ivory trade. A fact to remember is that the Norse was the first people that permanently settled in Iceland and hunted walrus for tusks, hides, and food. The analysis explains the early local extinction of the marine species of walrus to be due to human arrival and further overexploitation. Humans who are the Norse settlers have played the role of extinction of Icelandic walrus.

Works Cited

Frei, Karin M., et al. "Was it for walrus? Viking Age settlement and medieval walrus ivory trade in Iceland and Greenland." World Archaeology 47.3 (2015): 439-466.

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Essay Example on Norse Settlement in Iceland Caused Walrus Extinction. (2023, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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